While there is still much to learn about the recent removal of a Mat-Su woman from her home, and forced “evaluation” under title 47, initial actions by authorities seem to indicate that HB172 did not go far enough in reforming this Alaska Statute and protecting your individual rights.

Despite what you may hear, it is important to understand that a health crisis emergency hold is not an arrest.  There are no criminal consequences for these holds; and there are no arrests under civil commitment proceedings.  This emergency and temporary hold lasts only until the person gets to the proper facility (such as a crisis center) to be evaluated by a clinician.

Under Title 47, prior to HB172 and SB120, police in fact could place a person under an emergency hold. They could not, however, simply “show up at someone’s door and make an arrest” citing only mental health reasons. HB172 did not change that. To show up at your door and pick you up, there would need to be either an existing ex parte order, from a judge, or the police had to be there for another legitimate reason (such as an investigation or welfare check). They would then have to find a mental health crisis with you being a danger to yourself or others.  HB 172 does not grant additional authority to police or any other first responders to enter your home, or to make any arrest. 

HB172 was the 32nd legislature’s attempt to correct Title 47 after the State of Alaska lost a lawsuit in October of 2018. The lawsuit involved citizen(s) undergoing a mental health crisis being forced to wait in jails or emergency rooms when a bed in an evaluation facility (such as API) was not available. So, the greatest “patient right” HB 172 created was the ability to steer people away from situations where they were forced to wait in emergency rooms, or Alaska Correctional Institutions, for days without access to proper behavioral health treatment. In the bill on page 10; lines 8-13, subsection (e) sets out the computation of time that someone can be held at either a crisis stabilization center (23 hours and 59 minutes) or at a crisis residential center (seven days).  Unlike the underlying title 47, both time periods include Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays.  

Section 18 of the bill amends AS 47.30.710 to add a new subsection (c) to require the mental health professional to apply for an ex parte order if a judicial order is not in place, which further ensures that patients are not held without judicial process. Under the current law (prior to HB172), health providers can already take someone into custody without consent for seven days; but instead of into an outpatient setting like the crisis clinic for less than one day, it would be into a hospital that might bar visitors or into a jail all without the added patient and citizen protection rights that are in HB172.

This bill also allows the paramedics to transport a person for an evaluation to an outpatient clinic where they can’t be kept without a hearing, AND the patient gets an attorney. In our enormous state we do not have law-enforcement officers close enough to where all residents live. A person could be endangered or put others’ lives in danger, and we must be able to let the paramedic or the physician at the local primary care clinic attend to the person to get them to the crisis clinic for help.

HB172 also contained several sections with language that deals with notification of a parent or guardian if the person in mental health crisis was a juvenile; and includes language for parental notification prior to the administration of any psychotropic drugs.

In the recent case of the Mat-Su woman, the court’s portion of the law seems to have worked properly, with the judge allegedly denying two requests for ex-parte commitment. Nevertheless, a mental health involuntary commitment and evaluation did happen. This makes a discussion on what HB172 did, and what it did not do, imperative.  

On the record, however – in the Senate debate of this bill – Senator Shelley Hughes said, at least four times that it would be a direct violation of law for a person to be taken into custody for political or religious beliefs. A person can only be taken into custody if they are gravely disabled, meaning in immediate danger or causing immediate danger AND have clear signs of a mental health crisis that can be seen or heard.

Finally, keep in mind that the troopers were acting on what they thought (and what was presented to them) was a valid order from a judge. Most of what happened to our friend and neighbor was already authorized under title 47. This statute was also amended by previous statute (SB120) in the 31st legislature.

It is unfortunate that HB172 was so wildly mischaracterized and subsequently misunderstood. And I am not sure of the political agenda of those who would put out the intellectually dishonest information that HB172 had some sort of evil or nefarious intent on the part of the governor or Legislature. This bill was simply a means to correct an issue with title 47, and increase your rights, not limit them. In fact, it was supported by Psych Rights, a law project for psychiatric rights, and many other mental health entities as a step in the right direction.

Obviously, there are more steps needed to protect your rights, but the changes to title 47 via HB172 did not create the most recent issue. And, in fact, HB172 may have been of some benefit in this case which was arguably filled with human error on many levels.

HB172 has it’s own FAQ page for those who might want to look into what it does, and does not, do.

The views expressed here are those of the author.

OPINION: Rep. McCabe offers clarification on HB172

Rep. Kevin McCabe
Rep. Kevin McCabe is a 40-year Alaskan, retired U.S. Coast Guard and currently a captain on Boeing 747s for a major international cargo airline. He and his wife live in Big Lake, an area he represents as a member of the Alaska House of Representatives.


  • micah6v8 says:

    > “it is important to understand that a health crisis emergency hold is not an arrest. There are no criminal consequences for these holds; and there are no arrests under civil commitment proceedings. This emergency and temporary hold…”

    So it’s no big deal to give the state this power? I see. I’m sure if you were to spend three days on a locked ward Rep. Kevin McCabe, forced to take drugs against your will, had your good name degraded and festooned about in media, were stripped searched, and given a battery of forced medical examinations for articulating publicly and lawfully first principle core values you would be fine with someone writing a breezy, condescending, and legalistic article as you had about Mary Fulp and this injustice done to her. I hope you are out of political power soon. You don’t speak for me or seemingly for the good people of Alaska.

    Rescind HB172. It is criminal to give the state this arbitrary power.

    Hey Rep. Kevin McCabe , you don’t speak for me

    • Dick Shinary says:

      dang…you people really cant read. itnis not HB172 that created her issue. it is the previous law which was already in place and which HB172 tried to change. repealing HB172 would make it worse.

  • DaveMaxwell says:

    Hughes and macaroni make me ill

    • Great Granny says:

      Would you like some Pepto Bismol??

      • DaveMaxwell says:

        Don’t need pepto bismol ! What I desperately want is good sensible representation by clear thinking individuals who believe in the constitution and bible , who also wouldn’t have a problem submitting to the bills they propose!
        Do unto others as to yourself!

  • Ruth Ewig says:

    Just keep up your good work, Senator Hughes. You can be trusted and have integrity which is lacking in the Senate “group.” that is down there. Senator Hughes, Senator Robb Myers and Senator Mike Shower can be trusted by their constituents and the rest of “We the people” here in Alaska to do the right thing without peer pressure to conform without the freedom to disagree or vote independently. .

  • Gerald Manning II says:

    Thank you for assisting with the clarification. It has become quite difficult to trust a lot of what is done by our government during these times.
    This was quite helpful-
    Ed Manning, II

  • Kgak100 says:

    Hate to correct you mcabe but her movement was arrested she was taken from her home without due process on a false order there has been so far no checls and balances what is the legal remedy at law for such a violation if she sues the tax payers are on the hook for poor government behavior without question her civil rights were violated not to mention she was medicated against her will how long until any one can be picked up for re-education and vaccinated without concent for there religious or political beliefs why are you trying to sell a soft side to this HB172 is bad law and goes against every thing we stand and die for in the country

    • Friend of Humanity says:

      I agree! In addition to what happened to her, now her reputation and her work record has been tarnished. I think that she needs to include McCabe in on the lawsuits since he is still out there advocating the bill.

    • North to Alaska says:

      While I’m not sure of everything that is in the current law and HB172, two troopers screwing up and accepting a false court order and employees at a mental health facility/hospital who violated law (because they didn’t have a state order beyond that court order) is not an indictment of the law. Kind of like saying, “someone violated the law, so the law was bad”
      Really bad logic

  • Ray Southwell says:

    The issue is a forced mental health evaluation on a free individual. In today’s culture, fear, anger and religious experience expressed is considered a danger. These emotions are normal reactions to certain situations.

    Most of us have a heightened sense of anxiety when confronted by the police. I spent 36 years as a RN. Many of those years in the ER. I needed to deescalate individuals brought into the ER by the police. The police officers’ demeanor is always intimidating these days.

    I wonder how many of my patients were forced treatment because of their anxiety over the situation not because of an actual need?
    Was that the case with Mary Fulp?
    Sent from my iPhone

    • Theresa says:

      “The issue is a forced mental health evaluation on a free individual. “
      B I N G O
      Telling me my captivity is only for a predetermined length of time and doesn’t involve arrest or a stay in a jail cell doesn’t allay my fears or convince me that these laws are just.

      If our current laws allow for me to be detained, forcibly drugged, and made dependent upon the evaluation of a psych doctor to regain my freedoms, they need to be stricken from the books.

      What you have made abundantly clear, Rep. McCabe, is how few rights we actually possess as Alaskans, and how cheaply our God-given right to personal autonomy is held by our governor and representatives.

  • North to Alaska says:

    What I would like to see is a reintroduction of the “pour farms” for the seriously mentally ill and homeless (which usually have mental illness too). These are large homes where people are committed permanently but are given freedom to do and go with supervision. They are given work, whether gardening, crafts, or outside employment, to give them self purpose and personal joy. They are supervised, evaluated, and given the proper treatment or care for their situations.
    Our current system is a catch and release the mentally ill and homeless which does them no good.
    Often there is no family member available to sign off for long term commitments on these people.
    In the smaller communities like where I live, we know who these individuals are. We are sad for them. They need help, not handouts so they can get more alcohol or drugs to self medicate. But the troopers can do nothing for them.

    • Friend of Humanity says:

      The globalists, along with the military industrial complex, are making camps to send the ones they deem “mentally ill” to. The “mentally ill” will be people like Mrs. Fulp and anyone else that hold Christian beleifs, do not support the globalist narrative and think that worlds designed upon “1984” and “Brave New World” ideology are really bad ideas for human-loving people.

  • Bill says:

    Maybe you would like to be taken from your home McCabe and tied down and be forced fed Pharmacia which is against most Christians beliefs…. You have NO rights with this law. They Take you against your will and ignore all your rights!
    You sir, should be ashamed….. Lets use this law on someone who is NOT hurting anyone, but lets keep the dangerous drug addicts on the street who like to threaten the public, swing machetes and break into local businesses…. but, No. They are safe. They wont hurt anyone, although the police traffic of phones calls has increased overwhelmingly with these individuals….. Im sure they are sound of mind as they are threatening your kids and elderly here…. arrest them 5 hrs later they are back out….. HB172 exposes the flaw in MANY laws you have been apart of.

    • Dick Shinary says:

      again – like most people who blindly believe certain a certain wasilla legislator, you can’t, or won’t read or even try to understand how a bill such as HB172 is writtend. It is not HB172 or anything Mcabe did – IT IS THE PREVIOUS LAW that Hb172 tried to change. Despite what Eastman and his apostles say, hb172 is not the problem and YOU should be ashamed for passing bad information

  • AK Pilot says:

    Thank you for providing this much-needed clarification. However, I disagree with your legal-esqe distinction between what happened to the principal in Mat-Su (can’t remember her name at the moment) and an arrest. As far as I’m concerned if I’m not free to leave then I’m under arrest regardless of whether I’m being held on criminal charges or to “protect me from myself”. Let’s be honest.

    I’m not suggesting that invountary commitment has no role in a civil society, but clearly there are still some gaps to be filled in our laws. I certainly hope you’ll work to fill them.

  • Diana says:

    McCabe and Hughes should be tested just as the principal was tested and let’s see how long the idiot laws prevail. I have listened to both the Senators and watched them in action and asked myself, “is this all there is by way of talent in the Matsu?” to work for the state and create good things for the citizens of this state? Both of these Senators need to be recalled. So, Matsu Republicans and residents, you need to get on the ball and get rid of this kind of junk persons who can’t think beyond the end of their noses.

  • Sharon says:

    Repeal both laws. Unacceptable!!

  • DaveMaxwell says:

    Does man have a sinful nature????? Is government filled with the same???? What then accountability restraint’s are placed on those governing “authorities “???

  • Friend of Humanity says:

    This is promising news!